Hey, CamSoda! I found someone else to add to your list.
I thought we were through with pitchers disrobing in the middle of games. I thought Max Scherzer and Sergio Romo’s tantrums after MLB implemented their new guidelines regarding pitchers using foreign substances were going to be the end of it. Turns out I was dead wrong. All it took to get Cincinnati’s Sonny Gray to change into his birthday suit was a subpar start and a little superstition.
Baseball players are undoubtedly the most superstitious athletes out there, right? You don’t step on the foul line while heading out onto the field. You don’t talk about no-hitters or perfect games when your pitcher is throwing one. You don’t change equipment on a winning streak. And you don’t steal Jobu’s rum.
Other famous superstitions in baseball include New York’s Joe DiMaggio always having to touch second base before entering the dugout, longtime Yankees’ backstop Jorge Posada urinating on his hands frequently throughout the season thinking it would help remove calluses… and a lot of things involving chicken. Boston’s Wade Boggs needed to eat chicken before every game, and veteran journeyman Matt Garza used to eat Popeye’s Chicken before every game he started. He’d even share with his teammates occasionally. Now that’s a superstition I can get behind.
Sonny Gray doesn’t have a family-friendly superstition like that though. After throwing four subpar innings against the Kansas City Royals last night, where Gray allowed two earned runs on seven hits and two walks, Gray stormed off the field and headed into the team’s dugout. Per the man himself, Gray then proceeded to take off every ounce of clothing he had on, change all of his clothes except his cleats, and headed back out to take the mound again.
The two-time All-Star Gray just might be the most superstitious person in the league right now. The only reason he didn’t change his cleats is because he “didn’t want to go out there with white cleats.” But is it really superstitious if it works? Sonny Gray went back to the mound and retired the next nine batters he faced. He finished his night by striking out the side in the seventh inning as his Reds mounted a comeback to earn Gray his second win of the season.
Gray spent most of June on the IL, but has excelled for the Reds when healthy this year. Despite holding a 2-4 record, Gray has a 3.19 ERA and is currently on pace to tie the highest strikeouts per nine rate of his career. If baseball players are as superstitious as their reputation makes them out to be, I wouldn’t be surprised if Gray decides to keep several outfit changes with him for every game he’s scheduled to start. Then, anytime Gray allows a run, there’s a new uniform to change into. With this new strategy, Gray could be the most dominant pitcher in the league for the remainder of the season… but then again, every time he changes his outfit would require another substance check from the umpires. That’d get real annoying real fast. I guess it’s just a question of whether or not Gray thinks it’s worth it, but based on how he performed last night, I’d be willing to bet he’d gladly get checked every inning if it meant he wouldn’t allow any runs.